The colours of sound

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In sync: Shajith Koyeri says sound treatment varies from film to film to suit the mood of the film.
In sync: Shajith Koyeri says sound treatment varies from film to film to suit the mood of the film.


Tête-À-tête Shajith Koyeri, who was part of the national award winning sound design team for ‘Omkara,’ speaks about his work.

“Sound design used to be a formality for the Indian film industry. But the approach is changing with our filmmakers realising the potential of sound, particularly after the adoption of Dolby,” says Shajith Koyeri, who was part of the national award winning sound design team of ‘Omkara.’

“We had taken a realistic approach in ‘Omkara.’ We thought the nature of sound or its volume should not distract the viewer. A good audiography should flow in tandem with the visuals. The soundscape should set the mood for the situation,” feels Shajith.

The technician shares the award with two of his colleagues, K.J. Singh and Subhash Sahu. “Working with K.J. Singh was a wonderful learning experience for me,” says Shajith.

The Thalaserry-born audiographer has worked on more than 50 films, including ‘Black,’ ‘Saawariya,’ ‘Bluff Master,’ ‘Mangal Pandey,’ ‘Maqbool,’ ‘15 Park Avenue,’ ‘The Blue Umbrella’ and ‘Fakkir in Venice.’

Sound treatment

“The sound treatment varies from film to film. For example, I had attempted a stylised sound track for ‘Bluff Master.’ The film was shot in Mumbai, so traffic noises were used extensively. Stylisation was done mostly to sync with visual cuts. ‘Saawariya’ had a musical sound design wherein ‘Mangal Pandey’ had a raw sound design. ‘Mangal Pandey’ was a period film hence all electronic sounds were avoided,” he explains.

Shajith says he does ample research on the soundscape before he plunges into the theme.

“Mangal Pandey was well-researched. Aamir Khan was supportive throughout the making of the film. Aparna Sen’s ‘15 Park Avenue’ was also well-researched.

“We looked into the world of schizophrenics, as to how they perceive sound. It was imaginatively applied in one scene where Konkona Sen Sharma watches television with her family. There is a party going on behind her but she, entranced in her hallucinatory world, hears only the voice of Saddam Hussain.

“The shot is then cut to the servant who enters and the ambience is back to normal. We tried to give a comprehensive view of her abnormality through that scene. And I think it worked,” he feels.

Shajith is currently working on ‘SRK,’ the Hindi version of ‘Chintavishtayaya Shyamala.’

“A little thinking can make a huge difference to the feel of the film. There was this one shot in ‘SRK,’ where the hero is walking with a friend. I spotted some water stains in the frame and used ambient sounds of clothes being washed, kids jumping into water et al. The director and the cameraman S. Kumar were enthused when they felt that extra dimension.

“The climax of the film is also worked on accordingly, with emphasis on surround sound,” he reveals.

He adds that he is glad to be part of the creative team at Fireflies Post Sound, which he says has had a major role to play in giving sound design its due place in a film.

“I left for Mumbai a few years ago to get out of depression caused by my immobility due to rheumatoid arthritis. I had no training or orientation in audiography. But the day I touched the mixer I knew it was going to be my world, my future,” reminisces Shajith.

“The advent of high-fidelity sound systems and their extensive implementation in theatres demand more creative attention on the sound track. The job hence has tangible creative authority, equivalent to the film editor and director of photography,” he concludes.



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